Comedy, drama follow British detectives in ‘Shakespeare & Hathaway – Private Investigators’

Meet Britain’s new version of “The Odd Couple,” a detective duo who can’t agree on anything – except solving crimes.

Hourlong episodes of the BBC series “Shakespeare & Hathaway – Private Investigators” air Thursdays at 8 p.m., beginning Feb. 7, following Plate & Pour and Tastemakers. A second season is currently being produced. The comedy-drama is executive produced by Will Trotter (“Father Brown”) with Ella Kelly (“Midsomer Murders”) serving as the series producer.

Private inspector Frank Hathaway (played by Mark Benton) has always worked alone. But Frank isn’t doing so well: he’s out of shape and low on cash. Frank needs a partner: ex-hairdresser and “people-person” Lu Shakespeare (Jo Joyner). The two eventually join forces and form a highly unlikely, hugely entertaining and fairly successful detecting duo.

Frank and Lu quickly discover that all is not as peaceful as it seems in their pretty theater town of Stratford-upon-Avon. The show portrays a town of picturesque charm with a hotbed of mystery and intrigue: extramarital affairs, celebrity stalkers, missing police informants, care home saboteurs, rural rednecks and murderous magicians, to name a few.

This odd couple of detectives form the unlikeliest of partnerships as they investigate the secrets of rural Warwickshire’s residents. But they help put the world to rights as they snoop and pry, even though they disagree on almost everything.

Feb.  7

Lu suspects her charming fiance, Clive, might be unfaithful, but is unconvinced when Frank seemingly catches Clive giving his devoted secretary, Janice, a diamond necklace. Lu unceremoniously fires Frank who crashes the wedding in a last minute bid to change her mind. Lu’s not having any of it, but when Clive is discovered murdered in the bridal suite all evidence points to her and her dream honeymoon is replaced with a police cell. With nowhere else to turn Lu is forced to enlist Frank to uncover the real killer and clear her name.

Feb. 14

When ominous noises on the roof startle Dora Bentley in the middle of the night, she panics and calls out for help. Brusque owner Penelope Pincott enlist the services of Frank and Lu to find who is trying to sabotage their care home. An undercover care assistant is embedded, where he encounters mischievous ex-soldier Johnny Falstaff, who delights in the ensuing chaos. The investigation is flipped on its head when Penelope fatally plunges from the secluded flat roof. The only problem is everyone at the home has a cast-iron alibi for the time of death.

Feb. 21

Undertaker Peter Quintus leads a quiet and unassuming life with his loving wife, Anne. So when he’s visited one morning by two mysterious hitmen who inform him he has just 24 hours to live because of an undisclosed misdemeanor, he goes into a tailspin. Peter flees straight to the detective agency and offers Frank and Lu an eye-popping fee to save his life. On a stakeout, Lu spots an overzealous neighborhood warden, Melvin, snooping on the Quintus’ house. Then they catch Peter’s ex-wife, Brenda, berating Anne over money she claims she’s owed. When the hitmen return to wound Anne, it’s clear they mean business but will Frank and Lu uncover who’s behind the plot?

Feb. 28

Old school magician, Lawrence Pross, is in the midst of his grand finale when tragedy strikes and his volunteer is fatally trapped in his medieval iron maiden. Accused of involuntary manslaughter, Lawrence is reduced to performing cheap tricks to passing tourists. His daughter Maggie doesn’t believe the trick was faulty and convinces Lawrence to enlist Frank and Lu, to investigate sabotage by Lawrence’s nemesis, Anton. As Frank and Lu delve into a world of illusion and sleight of hand they meet surly stagehands and thorny travel agents, each with their own version of what happened on that fateful night.

March 21

When the Mayor of Arden is discovered murdered in his isolated cottage suspicion falls on local criminal, Billy the Brick Porters, but he’s nowhere to be found. DI Marlowe is straight on to Frank’s case: she knows Frank and Billy have history – where would he go to hide out? Frank is evasive and Marlowe issues a stark warning – hand him in or there will be trouble. When Billy turns up at the agency he pleads with Frank to clear his name and reminds Frank he owes him… big time. Despite Lu and Sebastian’s reservations Frank is adamant – Billy is no murderer and he’s going to prove it. The case leads them to a controversial housing development headed up by hard-nosed businesswoman, Victoria Cathness, who is increasingly frustrated by protestors being led by rule-breaking Eddie Grimes. Both use underhand tactics to get what they want, but would they be prepared to commit the ultimate crime?

March 28

It’s a slow day in the office for Frank and Lu until a hysterical Sally Balthasar flies into the office in a whirlwind of tears – they have to help her, someone’s threatening her and she simply cannot perform under these conditions. Sally reveals she’s in town staging her new adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” but someone’s left a menacing message on her hotel room window. The gang immediately get to work but just when they’re getting close, the tables turn when someone attempts to poison Sally during the preview performance. Looking around the cast it’s not hard to find someone with a bone to pick with Sally: from the frustrated director, Roman, to the quietly seething understudy, Belle – Sally hasn’t been shy in ruffling a few feathers whilst staging her masterpiece. With opening night fast approaching Frank and Lu must uncover the would-be killer, before they get a chance to strike again.

April 4

At the detective agency, Frank is ambushed by larger-than-life Martin, who claims to be Frank’s uncle, but Frank chucks him out the office – he knows a conman when he sees one. It’s otherwise another day when Diana and her husband Leon, owners of an upmarket gift shop, suspect employee Lola of making a false workplace injury compensation claim and need Lu and Frank to prove it. But Frank and Lu’s straightforward surveillance operation is derailed when Diana is found dead in what looks like a robbery gone wrong. Frank is unconvinced but is stumped when his prime suspects have cast-iron alibis. When the personal and professional collide everyone becomes a suspect and Frank and Lu must use all their powers of detection to bring the real killer to justice.

April 11

Awkward teen, Hamish, is plagued by a recurring dream in which he sees the body of a murdered woman but always wakes up before he can learn anything more. He can’t quite work it out, but he’s pretty sure it’s a premonition – he’s terrified he’s going to do something awful, and he needs Frank and Lu to tail him over the weekend and keep him out of trouble. Pretending to be newlyweds, Frank and Lu end up at a silent retreat, run by Hamish’s hippy mother, Sandra, and stepfather, Rex. While suffering through the mindfulness and movement therapies they observe Hamish’s ex, Lily, and arrogant friend, Uzoma. Frank wakes to learn that Hamish has been discovered next to a dead body near the house. He’s confessed to the murder, but has no idea when or why it happened. As far as the police are concerned it’s case closed, but Frank and Lu are determined to uncover the truth.

April 18

When a dead rat makes an unwelcome appearance on Hiverna restaurant’s menu on their most important evening, chef Len Tekler is beyond furious – someone is trying to stop him from winning Arden Restaurant of the Year. He calls in in Frank and Lu, but they’re unable to crack the case before the saboteur strikes again – causing a nasty bout of food poisoning leading to Hiverna’s closure. An apoplectic Len swears bloody revenge but is found dead the next day from suspected poisoning. As the pair learn from acerbic blogger Paulina, there are many people with good reason to wish despotic Len harm, but who would want to silence him forever?

April 25

A crash in the middle of the night alarms Lady Tania whose rebellious daughter, Mia, is missing along with a precious necklace. Frustrated with her wayward daughter and distraught at the loss of her beloved necklace Lady Bede summons Frank and Lu to her stately home. Upon arrival the pair spots a crew of workers led by the charismatic Ron Greenvale preparing for the annual Autumn Equinox Ball. Lady Tania issues clear instructions – she’ll pay them to crack the case, but only if they retrieve the missing jewel before the ball. When a bloodied top belonging to Mia is found in the grounds it seems darker forces than simple teenage rebellion are at play.

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